CANNABIS AS PAIN MANAGEMENT
There is no denying that pain summons our most basic need to stop, listen to our bodies and heal. Illness, disease, or chronic issues due to accidents or conditions can make our daily lives miserable. The one universal symptom declaring there is something awry in our bodies is pain, it sends a signal that travels to the brain by several pathways. Pain relief then, has become big business, driven by big demand. However, the root causes of pain are often not fully understood and therefore difficult to treat, many pain relievers cause terrible side effects and people are constantly looking for alternate ways to alleviate them.
Marijuana has long been known to have pain-relieving properties and it has been used to treat everything from migraines to chemotherapy’s debilitating side effects. Chronic pain sufferers benefit from marijuana and it is far less taxing on the system than other drugs when considering the need for prolonged use.
Whether the pain one is suffering is acute, short lived or chronic, marijuana could be a source of reprieve. It is still very difficult ethically and logistically to perform studies on volunteers, therefore, nothing can be confirmed. Yet, research by the IOM (Institute Of Medicine) suggests that the effect of cannabinoids to help with chronic pain for those with injuries, cancer or post surgery, has been found to provide moderate relief from pain, akin to that of codeine. Most studies center around the use of cannabinoids for inflammation, nerve injury and sensitive tissues associated with cancer patients and this seems to show a great deal of promise. Pain from cancer can be excruciating and severe, with opiates often not being enough. In these same studies, oral THC seemed to work as an antiemetic, increased appetite as well as relieving pain. Some patients said that marijuana did not necessarily take away their pain but it helped them cope with the discomfort. Some studies also show that those with multiple sclerosis find that marijuana use aids in the relief of spasticity and limb pain.
One definitive breakthrough has been determined however, and this is that canabinoid receptors are in fact found in the specific region of the brain that is known as the area where migraines arise (the periaquductal region – PAG). No one is sure exactly what that means in terms of pain relief, yet, it is significant enough to warrant further research since the medicine available for migraines only works for 1 out of 4 sufferers.
Older Americans are turning to marijuana for pain relief from various chronic body aches. Retirement communities and nursing homes are seeing more and more elderly people opting to treat their pain with medical marijuana over the various addictive opioid’s such a morphine.
Everything from the type of strain to the amount of the dosage you administer, plays a very important role in using marijuana to help with pain management. According to research, most people, either doctors or patients, seem to agree that the familiar adage of ‘less is more’ applies to the use of marijuana in managing pain. Indica strains (higher in THC) in low doses fairs better than higher doses. The numbers don’t lie, and at this point, approximately 1 in 5 chronic pain sufferers are turning to cannabis as an alternative to toxic and addictive treatments.